Congratulations to Middlesex U15 Girls who were recently crowned the 2013 National U15 County League Champions after a thrilling final against Lancashire at Wokingham CC.
Having topped their South East Group in some style, the county team, coached by former England player Beth Morgan, was invited to the National Finals on the 22nd and 23rd August.
Middlesex proved too strong for Warwickshire in the Semi-Finals, bowling magnificently to set up a win by 9 wickets. Batting first, Warwickshire were bowled out for just 59, with 7 wickets falling in quick succession after the 20 over drinks break. Maia Bouchier (4 for 12) and Millie Pope (3 for 18) were the pick of the Middlesex bowling attack, whilst U15 Captain Sophia Dunkley’s 30* helped Middlesex reach the total in just 24 overs.
This set up a brilliant contest against Lancashire in the National Final. Middlesex’s decision to bowl first looked a good one with Lancashire 3 for 19 off the first 8 overs from Gayatri Gole and Anya Vadgama. Three more wickets from Maia Bouchier and great economical bowing from Sophia Dunkley, Kelsey Toner and Viola Lough restricted Lancashire to 105 for 8 off their 40 overs.
After the loss of an early wicket, a good second wicket partnership between Meera Desai and Sophia Dunkley steadied the Middlesex reply, and a patient 18 further runs from Millie Pope led Middlesex to 56 for 4 at the half way stage.
However, two wickets from Jess Bradley, and a double wicket maiden from Hannah Jones tilted the balance back in Lancashire’s favour, and at 88 for 9, the game seemed to be slipping out of Middlesex’s grasp.
Iqraa Hussain had other ideas. Announcing her intent in some style with an immaculate cover drive for 4, she refused to buckle under the pressure, and with Anya Vadgama formed the match-winning 10th wicket partnership to end Lancashire’s hopes of a League and Cup double.
Indeed Iqraa thought she had won the game with the scores level, and it took five nerveless blocks from Anya (3* off 18 balls), before Iqraa (23*) guided the first ball of the 37th over through to third man for the championship winning runs.
Victory in the final was a perfect way to finish what has been a season without precedent for Middlesex Women’s Youth Cricket, and for some players a wonderful five years with the County Youth Squads.
During the course of the season, five Middlesex players were selected for the England U15 Women’s Development Programme, with Anna Nicholls training with the U19 England Squad on the day of the final.
Manager Clem Boden was delighted with the efforts of the entire U15 Squad. Interviewed after the game he acknowledged the significant sacrifices that county coaches, players and their families had made to ensure that the squad prepared, trained and played at the level they were able to. Clem praised the notable contribution made by clubs and schools throughout the county in player development.
‘They are such a super group and play the game is such a wonderful spirit of love and enjoyment. Their clubs and schools can be very proud of what these exceptional players have achieved.’
He also acknowledged the impact made by the Middlesex County Youth Coaching team including MCCC Assistant Head of Youth Cricket Rory Coutts, and Danni Warren who are understandably delighted with the achievements of the squad having worked with many of the players for five years.
Clem paid special tribute to U15 Coach Beth Morgan, herself a World Cup Winner with England and currently captain of the Middlesex Women team.
‘Beth exudes such calm assurance, and is uncompromising in the high standards she sets for herself and for the girls. She is a fantastic role model for women’s cricket, and the players rightly look up to her as a shining example of how to play and enjoy the game we love.’
‘I thank and congratulate every player that trained with the squad this year and represented the county, our county, at U15 Cricket this season. Whether they joined us from the U13s for a game, or scored the winning runs in the Final, they have every right to call themselves members of the top girls’ county cricket squad in the country.’
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